Garson Kanin Howard Taubman - Essay

Howard Taubman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In "A Gift of Time" death is the inescapable enemy. In the opening scene it is clear that Charles Wertenbaker, a writer of 53, attractive, urbane and mature, is doomed. Consulting with physicians in St. Jean-de-Luz, he is told that he must undergo immediate surgery for the removal of an intestinal obstruction. He and his wife, Lael, may think there is hope, but the audience is told by one of the doctors that he is lost….

Mr. Kanin never means to have the outcome in doubt.

The aim of the play is to reveal how Charles and Lael carry out their delicately expressed agreement to make the most precious use of whatever gift of time is left to him. Charles has no desire for religious comfort, and though as a Time-Life luminary he once wrote about the affairs of the world, issues of politics, economics, diplomacy and the other so-called large events of men's concerns scarcely are mentioned.

The emphasis is on the love that has fulfilled Charles and Lael's life together, on their devoted appreciation of their young son and daughter, on the need to seize every remaining moment and make it large with awareness. The burden of most of the play is Charles' effort to communicate the importance of the simple and profound values of living as he struggles against physical agonies.

Since these are good people, our hearts go out to them in their time of trial. They have emotion but no sentimentality....

(The entire section is 465 words.)